Keeper of the Flame

“Keep the fire going,” was Christopher’s parting advice today as left for a day in town running errands.  He needn’t have told me. 
My day consisted of researching health insurance options online and making phone calls to health insurance brokers in search of a reasonable alternative to our current individual policies.  It’s not easy.  Some online sources requested only a phone number, zip code, and number of employees.  One broker actually took information over the phone.  Others didn’t return my messages. 
Back in a former life I did this sort of thing annually for a mid-sized firm of 20-40 employees. I have a feeling it was easier than trying to locate a health insurance company that might be willing to cover two people who have a small farm business will be. 
After deciding the day was shot and no one else was likely to return my calls, I knit two rows on my llama shawl.  While the pattern is lacey it will be a warm shawl, not a showy fancy delicate shawl. 
Throughout the day, I added a log now and then to the wood stove.  Admittedly we have other sources of heat in our house but the wood stove allows us to keep the temp set low and use natural resources.  During the days that our house was being built Chris cut and I stacked wood  when other chores were light, especially last winter.  Earlier this fall a big sycamore fell beside the house.  Chris sectioned it up and made quick work of adding it to our woodpile and the woodpile at his father’s farmhouse across the barnyard from us. 
As I write the temp is forty degrees F.  When the sun sets the temps will dip lower, possibly to freezing. Snow is expected in parts of our state.  While forty degrees isn’t terribly cold, I have taken my role as Keeper of the Flame serious.  By five pm I’d restocked the wood on the porch that will feed the fire through the evening and into the next few days.  The woodpile is covered by tarps to keep the wood dry while the trees are bare of leaves. This weekend several inches of rain had fallen and large pools of water had settled into the low spots of the tarps.  After I was happy with the wood on the porch, I released the bungee cords that held the tarps and made spouts to allow the rainwater to escape, then readjusted where I’d taken off logs to try and create natural spouts so the next rain wouldn’t pool so much.  I swept off batches of wet soggy leaves from the tarps that were level with my head by climbing on the lowest timbers.  My leather gloves were wet and dirty, as was my barn coat by the time I’d finished.  But I felt satisfied with my task. 
All the while I worked I thought about the myth of Vesta, Keeper of the Flame.  Vesta was the virgin goddess of home and hearth in Roman mythology.  Throughout history women have been given this task – keeping the fire.  It reaches much further than my keeping the wood stove fired up, it is about keeping the family fed, the family warm, the family healthy, the family safe.  Historically, without fire how could any of those be accomplished?
Now as a feminist, I find no problem with these responsibilities.  In fact, I generally enjoy them although they are not mine alone in our house.  Today rebuilding our woodpile, replenishing our dry wood, and now gathering the ingredients to make a big pot of chicken and dumplings, and tonight as I again knit on the big cozy llama shawl –

I honor Vesta Keeper of the Flame.

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I just wrote this line in an email to a friend.  It bears repeating.var gaJsHost = ((“https:” == document.location.protocol) ? “https://ssl.” : “http://www.”);document.write(unescape(“%3Cscript src='” + gaJsHost + “’ type=’text/javascript’%3E%3C/script%3E”));
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What I want is to sit and knit in front of the fire.  Hike in the woods.  Knit some more.  Drink cocoa.  Knit, nap, repeat.  When the sun goes down switch the cocoa to wine – eliminate the nap.  

So what are you repeating these days Dear Readers?

Hand – Dyed

First offerings of the hand dyed yarn have been successful and more hand dyed lace weight will be ready.
Within the next few weeks the first online purchasing will be available over on the lavender website.
But for now…here are teasers.

Each skein unique, but all are rinsed in a gentle bath of lavender.

Silk, merino and alpaca…

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NYC – photos

I have no belief that I can recapture our week long visit to New York City  and adequately blog about it.

Chris took photos with his camera, I took photos with my camera, Chris took photos with my camera, and sometimes Strangers took photos with my camera.  I journaled on most days but some days were even too busy for that.

So here’s what I’m offering… photos with captions.  No running commentary or detailed travelogue, or even chronological ordering.  Maybe occasional comments.  That’s it.
First comment – There is a space – people – sound distortion/impact when you jump from an isolated farm to a real city.  And then the same thing happens in reverse when you return home.  It can mess with you.
Second comment – From the very beginning New York City (or as it was known New Amsterdam) was founded as a multi-cultural city/port.  I think that is the key to understanding New York.

By no means was English the dominate language I heard while visiting.  I could not say there was a dominate language at all.  I like that.
We stayed at the Larchmont in Greenwich Village.  A small studio room, bathroom and shower down the hall.  It’s perfect – location and size.
The foliage was at peak and lovely.  Central Park in the rain.  Now I know why New Yorkers carry such large purses and messenger bags – it’s for the umbrellas.

The first Jewish Synagogue in NYC, now surrounded by the Asian communities.  
The Magnolia Bakery.  
OHMYGODSGOOD cupcakes. I had four.  Yes four! I was not the only one.

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Remember the sign Christopher found for me last month?
We found one for him!
This was taken at a open air market on Fifth Avenue.  I wish I could have seen them setting this up.
Katz Deli – fantastic sandwiches!  Wicked crazy crowd in what one would think was chaos but the legendary deli has it all under control.

 Order the corned beef on rye – you won’t be disappointed!  Remember that scene in When Harry Met Sally?  You know the one – the orgasmic one.  It was filmed in Katz Deli.  I swear she had the corned beef.
I love the tall skinny buildings – especially the brightly painted ones.

For the knitters: while walking in the Chelsea District we saw an art installation with faux sheep and reflecting waters. Two yarn establishments were visited (Chris has photos – I was busy fondling the yarn), first was School Products where I bought yummy baby camel yarn, second was Habu Textiles where I bought exotic yarn that shall not be discussed here.  Both of these were “quests” that really paid off because we had no other reason to go to the garment district and we found out what’s behind those obscured windows on the upper floors of the tall skinny buildings.

One day we took the Ferry to Staten Island, and not just for the view.  Chris knew of a guitar shop on the island that he wanted to visit.
In Union Square there was hoopin’ spotted!  Hillarey was on my mind often – not just for the hoopin’.
Below is the only photo I have of the parade.  NYC’s finest gathering about two hours before Mama Donna Henes was to lead the Greenwich Village Volunteer Participant Parade.  After this I stuck my camera in my pocket and just enjoyed the evening!

We visited Washington Square Park numerous times – for the music, the dogs, just walking through and sometimes just to people watch – day and night.
Sunday was spent going across the city (and Central Park several times) as we watched the marathoners.  Chris read that two million people came out to watch the marathon, one million to watch the parade the night before.  
For Mom, I took lots of photos of Chinatown…

On Friday, our final (though partial) day we wandered the streets of Greenwich Village.  We had hot dogs at Gray Papaya, and then one last cupcake from Magnolia Bakery.  This photo was taken not after that final cupcake but after the third cupcake near Rockafeller Center.  I had red velvet.  It’s my favorite.
(Sis – I thought of you making them for Roger.)
You can tell I enjoyed the red velvet cupcake by my refusal to open my eyes and return to the real world after that last bite.